Evelyne Nyairo, owner of Ellie Bianca in Calgary
When the government asked Canadians to help fight COVID-19, Evelyne Nyairo pivoted her business to make hand sanitizer. High demand meant consumers were willing to accept anything, but Nyairo wouldn’t cut corners. Instead, she honored the ethos of Ellie Bianca, her all-natural beauty line, and released a product that was kind to people and the planet.
“Trust the process. Use this time to just allow yourself to be creative and find innovative ways around this. Be open and quick to adjust.” – Evelyne Nyairo, owner of Ellie Bianca.
After encountering gender inequality in Africa, Evelyne Nyairo sought to create a business that would help empower women. It all started when an environmental consulting project took her to Chad. Working amongst wild mango trees, Nyairo observed a mother and child climbing trees to harvest fruit. When she tried to pay the woman for mangoes, Nyairo was instructed to give money to the woman’s husband. Speaking on the experience, she says, “This took me back to the boardrooms in Canada where I had experienced instances of gender discrimination. The sweetness of the mangoes inspired me to take a keener interest in the earth’s bounty. While the bitter experience of misogyny compelled me to think of a sustainable way to incite change.” When she returned home, she founded Ellie Bianca. It’s named after her daughter Ellie, a budding champion for women’s rights. Nyairo’s products are all-natural, environmentally sustainable, and a socially conscious skincare line that supports women's empowerment through business and education.
Nyairo’s business is socially conscious so when the government sought help to fight COVID-19, she dutifully responded. Nyairo used her expertise to formulate hand sanitizers that were all-natural. They stayed true to her company’s ethos and were gentle on both people and the planet. She’s proud of the innovation and proud of her team. They shifted and adjusted to get the product market-ready during the pandemic. “I am grateful for my team who’ve been my biggest drivers and motivating factors. Although young, they acted with so much maturity and took this project almost as if it was their own.”
Nyairo has always been inspired to help others but is careful to keep a principled grasp on the business too. “I love planning and deciding what happens when and where, but in came the pandemic and so all the plans had to readjust. I do miss the certainty, but my philosophy has always been positive, so I still go with the flow, trust the process and see the good through challenging situations.”
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